From the Pastor | April 16, 2021
Many of us may be familiar with the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” When schoolyard banter led to more heated exchanges, it was a quick and easy response to name-calling. The problem is that the rhyme cannot be more removed from the truth. What we utter or put to pen, especially in meaningful moments, is usually a reflection of who we are and what we believe. Simply stated, words matter, and words can be hurtful.
The essay that was published in last weekend’s e-newsletter and parish bulletin uncovered the hurt being experienced by our LGBT parishioners as a result of a document published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The direct response to the question of whether same-sex unions may be blessed was a straightforward and concise one. It was, “no.” To have expected any other answer from the CDF at this time would have been overly optimistic of those presenting the question, but it needed to be asked as dioceses around the world are being encouraged by Pope Francis to convene local synods of members of the faithful, both clergy and lay. The response was disappointing to many, especially those who are in same-sex relationships and their families. Although disappointing, the negative response came as no great surprise. What did shock and offend the sensibilities of many, including members of the Church’s hierarchy, was the explanatory note that accompanied the single-word response. Can it be that the CDF failed to understand that words matter and they can be very hurtful?
There is one undeniable truth that is foundational to everything that we believe. Where love is found, God abides. As a corollary to that belief, human relationships anchored in love are intrinsically sacred. The only thing disordered in the explanatory note was the circular arguments and flawed logic used by the CDF to reach its conclusion. Let us hope that in time official pronouncements of the Church will acknowledge the dignity of each person, no matter their sexual orientation, and the sanctity of the bond that, at times, unites them in a committed way.
We cannot change the words or the gravamen of the CDF’s explanatory note. What we can do is acknowledge the significant impact that statement has had on parishioners who identify as LGBT or parents of LGBT children. It is understandable that their collective reaction was that once again their Church failed them. We now have the responsibility to express in words and deeds how valued they are by us as fellow parishioners.
We are a more vibrant and nurturing parish because we reflect the rainbow of diversity that is the real world – a world created by God and considered “good” at the end of each day of creation, with the highest accolade, “very good,” reserved for the human person. Therefore, let us embrace one another with words that convey honor and respect, words that bestow blessings on all who call this parish their home, and words of compassion and love for our LGBT sisters and brothers who now look to us to be models of what the Church is called to be.
May the hallmark that distinguishes us as a parish be that we love one another for who we are – whether straight or gay, married or divorced, or known by any other labels that mark our differences. When that truly happens, acceptance and understanding will anchor us. Then we will know that God abides among us.
Sincerely in the Lord,